Stories From California

Fanny Mendelssohn - Culver City, CA

I would have never thought to ever encounter the music of Fanny Mendelssohn in a Culver City home, but here I was, at Angela Thompson's house listening to the swelling piano notes in her living room with concert pianist Violeta Petrova at the piano and soprano Elif Savas singing Fanny's lieder.  I am a novice regarding classical music, but even I can tell: this woman was a musical genius. And so it is rather upsetting ...

that Fanny's music is not better known. When people hear 'Mendelssohn' they think Felix. Felix and father Abraham told Fanny repeatedly not to perform her compositions in public because it was not a woman's place to do.

While Fanny is getting a lot of recognition now in Germany, Angela is determined to get her music into concert halls all over the world, even if it means to start in her living room.

Angela's enthusiasm is so contagious that not only professional musicians with decade long careers like Petrova and Savas interpret Fanny Mendelssohn at her home concerts. Music students have caught the 'Fanny-bug' as well. First came sisters Kaitlin and Emily Webster-Zuber. They heard Angela's lecture about the German composer, pianist and conductor from the romantic period at a library. They immediately were inspired to add Fanny's music to any performance they give. Kaitlin and Emily also share their knowledge with friends, teachers and classmates. And everybody spreads the word. Even more importantly: everybody shares the music.

Angela was dreaming of one day having concerts in her own house when she was eight years old and still living in Germany. She can imagine just too well what it meant for Fanny Mendelssohn to be told repeatedly, that this music thing is really nothing for her to pursue, she should leave it to her genius brother Felix and focus on women's work in the house. Angela's parents told her that going to university was a waste of time, money and energy for any woman. That's why she came to California, getting her PhD at UCLA, writing about poet and writer Joseph von Eichendorff

Hearing Fanny Mendelssohn's music at her home is a dream come true. But it is just the beginning of Angela's mission to give the composer her well deserved recognition as one of the greatest of her time. One sure sign of her success is that I now know quite a bit about Fanny Mendelssohn. I knew NOTHING about her two years ago, but just like all the others touched by Angela's energy, now I always want to know and hear more.

 

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